Building & Developing Your Team

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When people talk about the sense commitment they have to their team or group, one cannot help but wonder what that essence is that makes a good team. What is it that binds the people within the team to work hard, to do more than is expected, to show initiative, to be creative, to give their loyalty to the team?

Team development checklist

What is it that brings envy into the hearts of those outside of the team, wishing to be part of it, wishing to have the same situation in their own group? Having a checklist for the development of a team can be helpful.

Commitment

This is the first essential element in building a good team. Each team member should be fully committed to the purpose and values of the organisation and the team. There needs to be a clear sense of direction and purpose in each team member as well as an understanding of where their work will fit in the bigger and overall picture.

Setting the ground rules before the team gets started with their input and understanding as well as inviting your team to have their own vision or sense of purpose would help in establishing the commitment. Focus on continued improvement, celebrate important milestones and always spend quality time with your team.

Contribution

The team must want to be there, they need to feel that they have a role in what is happening. The more those individuals feel they are part of a team, the more they will contribute to it. For a good team you need to have a variety of skills and abilities. Allow the team to have a choice in who will be a part of their group. There should be balanced participation – therefore three factors should be considered. Inclusion, Confidence and Empowerment.

Inclusion

Keep the team members informed and continue to get their input and support. If there are no suggestions forthcoming, then ask for them! If the team member misses meetings – let them know. nicely! Any idea that is put forth, the team leader needs to show appreciation, even if the idea is a little wild.

Confidence

The team leader should have a lot of confidence and project it to the team; this will affect the energy within the team. To breed the confidence, team leaders can highlight talent, experience and accomplishments of their members. Always keep past team successes visible, provide feedback continuously, offer coaching and support, assessment and encourage professional development.

Empowerment

To balance out the contribution of a team the team leader needs to promote and encourage empowerment. Team members who are involved in the decision making process, feel enabled to invest more into the team. Team members would at this point, also support and help each other’s contribution.

Communication

In any effective team, open communication is essential. Members need to be encouraged to say what they think and feel, to ask for help, share new or unpopular ideas and risk making mistakes. They must feel comfortable with their leader. They also need to show concern and understanding for each other as well as focus on solutions and not problems. When the communication is friendly and honest, open and positive, it will create team cohesiveness. Respect plays an important role in a team. The team leader needs to know the team well – find out about the special and important things in their lives.

The team should always be encouraged to talk about what they like or need not whine about what annoys or frustrates them. The former will energise but the latter will demoralise.

Cooperation

The success of the team depends on the degree of interdependence recognised within the team. It is important to highlight the impact of the individual on team productivity and clarify the valued team member’s behaviours.

F.A.C.T.S.

(Follow through, accuracy, timeliness, creativity and spirit), is the model of effective team member’s behaviours, which should serve as a guide to help identify behaviours that support the synergy within the working team.

Follow through and trust are essential commodities of effective teams – if you say you will do something – then do it. Build the trust and respect by simply keeping your promises and meeting your own responsibilities and deadlines. Team members should be aware that everything they do, or do not do, impacts another member of the team.

Compromise

Innovation will flourish when individuals feel supported by their colleagues. Team members need to forgive mistakes, respect individual differences and shift their thinking from a point of view to a viewing point. Sometimes the team cannot always do it right the first time, but the time and effort put into trying should be acknowledged. Allow for mistakes, support the team when they are made, but then ask WHY was the mistake made.

A team member will look at the team as an extension of himself, as being part of a family. However, while developing a generous spirit it is impossible to have it your way all the time. Value the individual, develop team trust, communicate openly, manage differences, share success and defeats and welcome new members. Respect the time of the other team members by turning team priorities into personal priorities. These are not values, just learning to compromise for the good of the team. Arrive to team meetings on time, come prepared, share information promptly, and communicate effectively – set team standards that are attainable for all involved.

Conflicts

What can cause conflict? Things such as misconceptions, ill feelings, old hurts, personality clashes, misunderstandings, differences in achieving the goals, desire for personal credit, lack of cooperation, failure to deal with poor performance, non compliance with the culture of the team and values being compromised could be some of the causes. It is not necessarily the conflict itself but how it is dealt with that will hinder or enhance the development of the team.

An ideal position to take would be to tackle the conflict head on – instead of asking ‘If I address this issue, it will slow down the briefing’ perhaps take the approach of ‘if we negotiate this difference, trust and creativity will increase’. Always check the factors, listen carefully to the different points of view, treat the cause not the symptom, remain calm and unemotional and look for a positive outcome.

In building teams remember – people like to be challenged, they like the idea of developing and maintaining friendships, they enjoy being responsible and they look for a good leader. Great leaders understand the importance of team purpose, challenge, commitment and camaraderie and will focus much of their time on creating the ideal conditions for these to exist. Great leaders have a knack for helping others see the best in themselves.

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